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Friends of Iziko SA National Gallery – “Themes” talks series: “Making”, with Liza Grobler and Douglas & Co

Date: Wednesday 18th April

Time: 6pm to 8pm including drinks

Venue: Iziko South African Museum, TH Barry Theatre, Company’s Gardens, CBD, Cape Town

Ticket: R100 for members; R120 for non-members; R50 for student non-members; R20 for student members. Book here.


“Themes” is a series looking at some of the broad concepts that drive creativity, across the disciplines – visual arts, music, performance, architecture and design. For each concept, two creatives are invited to consider how a particular theme informs their work.

This iteration explores “making” with visual artist Liza Grobler and architects and product designers Douglas & Co. In the modern and contemporary era, making is but one tool in the tool kit of creatives – for instance, conceptual art does not require making let alone making by the artist’s hand; designers render on software and fabrication is outsourced. For those creatives who make as part of their practice, what does making offer them? Perhaps in the case of our two speakers, making is another way of thinking, via using their hands?

Visual artist Liza Grobler has exhibited widely in South Africa and internationally. She is the recipient of various awards including the Africa Centre award to attend the Khoj International Artists’ Association (Delhi, India) 2016, and selected for Residency Unlimited (New York) 2018. One key aspect of her work is her diverse use of materials, including the unexpected such as mohair, cement, pipe cleaners, thorns, skulls, trampolines and much more, used in unusual ways. As these materials’ characteristics are unique, Grobler must navigate and negotiate with their respective properties in her making, and it is the resultant tussle that gives rise to the final form of the artworks.

Jan and Liani Douglas form Douglas & Co, a multidisciplinary design studio. With a focus on architecture and product design, they have collaborated with Southern Guild and Mr Price Home, and have exhibited collectible design pieces locally and abroad. The duo explores making through working in different scales and directly with various manufacturers and fabricators. When working at a smaller scale, they get a chance to test ideas and experiment with a wide palette of materials, such as in their current furniture range, which uses materials more commonly associated with the construction industry including metal and stone.

The Friends of Iziko South African National Gallery is a not-for-profit members organisation that supports the work of the National Gallery in art acquisition, education and conservation.